The Harps Junior Footballers traveled to Portlaoise last Tuesday night to face Castletown-Slieve Bloom in an attempt to qualify for the quarter finals of the Championship. A cool but dry evening with a little breeze made for decent conditions to play football. Castletown-Slieve Bloom were quickest of the mark and registered their first score of the night within a minute of throw-in. The Harps took time to settle and kicked a wide before James Campion kicked over a free after six minutes (see video below) to level affairs.
Castletown-Slieve Bloom hit a purple patch, racing into a five point lead by the twenty-second minute. Three of these points from play and two from frees. The Harps tried to stay in touch but efforts for points went agonisingly wide. In the closing stages of the second half, both sides exchanged scores with Niall Brophy slotting over two fine points from play only to be equaled at the opposite end of the field. Half Time: The Harps 0-03 V 0-08 Castletown-Slieve Bloom.
At half time, The Harps management made one change which saw Alan O’Connell being replaced by David Doheny. The Harps opened the second half at lightning pace and within seconds James Campion had a point from play registered. However, the great start was short lived… a momentary lapse in the Harps’ defence concentration saw CSB launch a shot on goal only for it to rebound off the crossbar and fall perfectly for CSB to have a second attempt. CSB made no mistake this time and Ger Alley was helpless to stop the shot and CBS raised the green flag. Photo: Ross Young of Core Fitness keeps an eye out for injuries.
To be fair to the Harps, most teams would have given up at this stage – but The Harps battled very hard for the remainder of this second half. Within two minutes Niall Brophy kicked a huge point from play and when CSB picked up a yellow card in the 36th minute, James Campion converted the resultant free. Castletown-Slieve Bloom got a point of their own three minutes later to try and stem the Harps revival and give themselves a six point cushion once more. Then The Harps made another change replacing Shane Donoghue with Darren Maher.
The Harps were getting on top and in the 44th minute Sean Bourke battled hard and made a daring run up the field to kick a fine point from the wing-back position. Two frees from James Campion had the Harps back to within three points with just under ten minutes to play. The Harps kept coming at CSB – a point from Niall Brophy and a free from James Campion had the minimum to just one point after 58 minutes. Photo: Steven Thomas looks on, wishing his injury wasn’t keeping him out of the night’s fixture.
CSB defended hard and packed out the defence in the dying minutes while the Harps tried in vein to level the match. An attempt on goal blazed wide and two further point attempts just couldn’t find the target. The youthful CSB despite packing out the defence broke out for a quick counter-attack in the 61st minute to register the final score to dash the hopes of The Harps in progressing. Full Time: The Harps 0-11 v 1-10 Castletown-Slieve Bloom.
The Harps: 1 – Ger Alley; 2 – Shane Phelan; 3 – James Shortall; 4 – Alan O’Connell; 5 – Shane Brophy; 6 – Tommy Moore; 7 – Sean Bourke; 8 – Pat Walsh; 9 – Ronan Delahunty; 10 – Shane Donoghue; 11 – Albert Townsend; 12 – Niall Brophy; 13 – Bernard Geraghty; 14 – Paul Shortall; 15 – James Campion.
Subs: off: Alan O Connell on: David Doheny (30min); off: Shane Donoghue on: Darren Maher (39 min).
Scorers: James Campion 0-05 (0-04f); Niall Brophy 0-04; Sean Bourke 0-01.
Management’s Thoughts: Manager Gabby Irwin with Selectors David Finnegan and Tommy Walsh praised the team for their efforts in the second half which nearly saw the Harps clinch victory. While being downbeat about exiting the Championship, they felt that the team done well in their second season in Junior A – maintaining the status quo in both league and championship for next year. They urged all players to come back next year to build upon this year and congratulated the players for their commitment throughout the last few months and also wished those involved with hurling and soccer every success in their seasons.